Days of 2003

That year he, too, finds himself
out of work, but the smell of oysters and garlic
lunging toward his open window
from Mulberry Street at night is unmistakable and good.
And the several dollars a day he makes peddling paperbacks
in the street are enough, at least,
to buy the bowl of broth he likes to drink on the steps
in the evening, watching the news building’s digital crawl
wreathe the city in rumors of disorder and a falling dollar,
the mercuric bay rosed over at sundown.

Though that isn’t why he’s knotting a tie
for the mirror now, his polyester pants,
several inches too long, pooling over his shoes.
If the greased fingers he sends through his hair almost smell of balsam,
if he again adjusts the handkerchief in his left breast pocket
to show more splendidly, it is for no one in particular.

These gestures are a tribute to talk he’s heard
of what is needed to amend a year’s disfavor,
of a random kindness in the streets—
the sort that comes to a young man
whose father’s high school ring jangles
against the dime in his pocket—
the soapy sheen of his fingernails,
a notion of better things to come.


Gianmarc Manzione received his MFA in creative writing at The New School in 2004. His work has appeared in The New York TimesThe Paris ReviewThe Southern Review, and elsewhere. This Brevity, his debut collection of poetry, was published in paperback in 2006. Pin Action: Small-time Gangsters, High-stakes Gambling, and the Teenage Hustler who Became a Bowling Champion, is forthcoming from Pegasus Books in 2014. 

Each month TIE highlights a contemporary poet who presents three poems and one personal essay in which food is consumed, passed over, or reckoned with.  Gianmarc is our poet for December, 2013.

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